I’m a word oriented person. I write. Using characters that are easily found on the lower three rows of a keyboard. Oh, my fingers may venture up to the top row now and then, if I mention an address, or a price, or even in conjunction with the Shift Key when I need to change a password, but that’s about it. My sentences have subjects, predicates, nouns and verbs and don’t require theories to read them. This is why I have gone back to college, to get a degree in English. Not Math.
But in academia, you first must establish your placement, and since the last math class I took was probably in 1975, establishing where my placement would be was a mystery as far as my credits were concerned. It was not a mystery to me. As long as the math problem included the basic four – addition, subtraction, multiplication or division, I could muddle through, but as soon as they started throwing in those mystery symbols, I was lost.
My advisor strongly suggested that I take the College Board Math Accuplacer Exam as soon as possible to find out whether I could just take the one math/logic class I needed as part of my required credits, or if I would have to take an entire year or two of remedial math courses. He explained by saying that the purpose of a placement test is to determine how much you know and how well you know it. There is no “passing” or “failing” on a placement test. A placement test serves only to “place” you in one math class or another. It does not attempt to judge how “smart” or “dumb” you are; it does not attempt to say how much you can accomplish in the future; it only judges, based on the experience of those writing the test, which math class would best serve your educational needs right now.
Yadda yadda yadda. What I heard him say was:
“If you pass this test, you get this flower. If you don’t pass, you will be sentenced to 50 years in prison where you will listen to fingernails on a chalkboard all day, and rap music all night.”
“Well, I’ll just have to pass.” I told him, hoping the tears in my eyes looked more like determination than sheer terror.
“There is no passing or failing with a placement test; there is only placing.”
Thanks Yoda, but whatever words you use to describe it, it’s still a math test and I still have to pass!
So, I did sign up for and take the test. I experienced flashbacks as I encountered ridiculously long strings of mystery symbols, and was asked to solve, find, reduce, and estimate any number of algebraic equations.
But, I guess time, life experience, and a lot of luck can make a difference! As I clicked on the final SUBMIT button, fully expecting to fail, I wasn’t surprised to be directed to SEE YOUR PROCTOR. I was surprised however when said Proctor smiled and said “You’ve Achieved Placement!” In other words, I passed!!! YEE HAW!!! Highest of fives all around… and oh, by the way…